England coach mulls options for NZ clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

England coach mulls options for NZ clash

By Steve Jancetic 03/11/2008 05:15:52 PM Comments (0)

To rest or not to rest - that is the dilemma facing England and New Zealand heading into Saturday night's meaningless World Cup clash in Newcastle.

A combination of expected results and poor performances have rendered the pool A game redundant, with the two teams to meet in the semi-finals a week later barring an unthinkable Papua New Guinea win over Australia on Sunday night.

England coach Tony Smith said he didn't know what approach his side would take into the match following their embarrassing 52-4 loss to the Kangaroos on Sunday night.

There would be temptation to give squad members outside his top 17 a run against the Kiwis, a play which would also deny New Zealand the opportunity of a practice run against their expected semi-final opponents.

But given England's performance on Sunday night, Smith may be forced to go with his best in a bid to find some semblance of form heading into the elimination games.

There is also the psychological advantage the winner of Saturday night's clash would take into the semis, though confidence levels of both sides would be low given their inept performances against Australia in the opening fortnight of the tournament.

"We'll sit down as a coaching team and have a look, review that game and see if what changes need to happen if any," Smith said.

"It looks like it's going to be a straight situation for next week in terms of there's a possibility of us both playing each other the following week.

"We'll just assess that."

Five-eighth Leon Pryce suffered a rib injury late in the first half of Sunday night's clash, a situation that could see Smith promote Danny McGuire to the starting line-up against the Kiwis.

England looked out of sorts in attack against Australia, while they also need plenty of improvement in their edge defence after being carved up by Kangaroos pair Billy Slater and Greg Inglis.

"It's an easy one to bounce back from. It makes you more determined and pulls your group together," Smith said.

"You just pick yourself up and go again, like you do in training every week. That's what you do in professional sport.

"We're all hurting, we're all part of it. When the team doesn't perform well we're all part of it."

Lions captain Jamie Peacock cut a forlorn figure in the sheds, his shock and disappointment obvious.

Asked if he any side stood a chance of beating Australia in the November 22 final, Peacock stated the obvious.

"Well for us to beat them we need to play a hell of a lot better than that, we need to play a lot better than that," he said.

New Zealand five-eighth Benji Marshall said he was keen to play the Lions despite a hamstring injury which saw him sit out the second half of the Kiwis' win over Papua New Guinea on Saturday night.

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